NEW YORK -- A pair of rookie pitchers looking to snap different streaks will take the mound Saturday night, when the New York Mets host the Atlanta Braves in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Braves, who won the series opener 5-1 on Friday night, are scheduled to start right-hander Aaron Blair, who is seeking his first big league win in his 10th career start.
Blair has a 7.59 ERA and has recorded more walks (25) than strikeouts (23) while pitching beyond the fifth inning just three times and completing six innings just once. But he hopes he turned a corner Monday, when he gave up six runs over five innings against the Reds.
Blair ended that outing with two shutout frames, which he said Friday came after he received a stern lecture from fiery veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"He kind of turned the switch on me and I got more aggressive as a pitcher -- not only with my pitches, but with my attitude," Blaire told Atlanta reporters. "I'm just looking to carry that into (Saturday)."
He'll also be looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow rookie right-hander John Gant, who threw a career-high 6 2/3 innings in earning his first big league win Friday. The victory extended the Braves' winning streak to three games, their longest run since a season-long four-game winning streak April 15-19.
"Last couple days, really good -- hopefully we can follow it up tomorrow," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "(Starters) need to be doing most of the pitching. It allows you to kind of use the (relievers) in roles a little bit."
Mets left-hander Steven Matz, meanwhile, will be looking to stop the first losing streak of his career. Matz took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he gave up five runs (four earned) over six innings as the Mets fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-3.
"He didn't have a lot of help behind him at times," acting Mets manager Dick Scott said after the game, which he managed because Terry Collins was undergoing tests at a local hospital. "He competes well. He got us through six innings. He didn't have his best stuff, but I thought he did a good job."
In his last three starts, Matz is 0-2 with a 3.78 ERA. He opened his big league career by going 11-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts dating back to last June.